How Can You Simplify Complex Decisions?

Recently, I turned down a very good business opportunity. The opportunity presented unlimited long-term growth potential. With exceptional people who are leaders in their field. People who share my vision and values. The work provided a healthy balance of challenge, growth and fulfillment. And it paid well.

You may be wondering…what was I thinking?! What was the catch?? Did they ask for my firstborn in exchange? No, there was no crazy catch.

Although the opportunity was exceptional, something just didn’t feel right to me. It took me a lot of self-reflection to make a decision. I had to cut through the complexities and noise I was creating around it. When I drilled down to the heart of the matter, I realized the opportunity required a level of commitment that I didn’t feel I could honor.

The 6 questions below helped me simplify my decision-making process as I evaluated this opportunity. I’m sharing them with you in hopes they help you evaluate your next opportunity.

1. How do you feel? Take a few moments to slow down and check in with yourself. How are you feeling about the opportunity? Are you experiencing positive emotions, such as excitement and inspiration? Or are you experiencing negative emotions, such as obligation, anxiety or overwhelm? Once you take note of your feelings, consider their source. Are your feelings about the opportunity itself, or are they about something else?

2. How would the opportunity fit into your long-term visionIf you can’t see how it supports your long-term aspirations, should you still consider it?

How well would the opportunity integrate into your life? Could it be leveraged to help you reach multiple goals or to fulfill you in other areas of your life? Perhaps it could expand your network in a desirable direction. Perhaps you could learn new skills that move you closer to your goals. Perhaps you could spend more time doing something you genuinely enjoy, with people you want to be around.

3. What would saying “yes” mean? Imagine yourself saying “yes.” How does it feel? Now, fast forward a bit. Are you fully able to honor the commitment you made? What has changed in your life as a result of saying “yes?” Has your energy level increased or decreased?


When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” – Paul Coelho

4. By saying “yes” today, what would you be saying “no” to in the future? Every time we say “yes” or “no” to an opportunity, we shape our future. When you commit to something today, it’s very likely you’ll have to turn down future opportunities. Are there other opportunities you value more? Could your “no” today clear the way for a better, whole-hearted “yes” in the future?

5. What other alternatives exist besides “yes” or “no?” Perhaps everything feels right, but the timing is off. It’s a “no, not right now.” Opportunities frequently come and go…and come back again. Oftentimes, they look even better the next time.

Or perhaps you could change the terms. Your answer becomes a “yes, but…” For example, “Yes, but I can only commit 5 hours per week. Will that be enough?”

6. What does your intuition tell you? When making big decisions, we typically spend a lot of time and energy logically weighing the pros and cons. We ask everyone else what they think we should do.

What do you think? What is your gut telling you?

If something inside of you is holding you back, if doubts keep creeping back in…whatever it is that is giving you pause…honor yourself. You are the one who will ultimately live with your decision.

These questions helped me make my decision from a deeper and more self-reflective place. I found my answer quicker, with more ease. And when I found my answer, I found peace. And that feels good.

I hope these questions help you find peace on your next big decision, too.


About the Author

Sarah believes the future of the accounting profession depends on our capacity to love. Through one-to-one coaching, group learning and innovation labs, she helps CPAs access the possibility dimension: the place where fear is no longer the enemy.

Prior to founding Intend2Lead, Sarah consistently balanced client service, firm management and industry leadership throughout her career as a practicing CPA. She spent ten years at PwC, where she performed a two-year rotation in their National Office.

Sarah was more recently the national audit partner-in-charge of a high-growth, regional CPA firm and served on its executive and human resources committees. Her responsibilities included oversight of training and development, firm strategy, personnel management, technical accounting and auditing leadership, firm policy and methodology, and quality control.

Sarah is an author, speaker and instructor on coaching and leadership development and a passionate advocate for women in the CPA profession.